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Ask Kathy About Confining Your Dog To Your Yard

By Kathy Santo | Updated: April 10 2019

Student’s Question:

“I want to keep my dog confined to my yard, but I don’t like the idea of an invisible fence, and I don’t like the look of a regular fence. How can I keep him on my property without a physical barrier?

Kathy’s Answer:

The short answer is: You can’t. At least not reliably.

What you’re describing is called “boundary training”, and it’s main problem with is that even though you probably could teach your dog (while he’s on a leash, and you’re attached to the other end of it) where your property line is, the minute you weren’t outside with him and he saw something that he wanted (a squirrel, people, cars, or rapidly moving air molecules), he’d more than likely run straight over that line, to infinity and beyond.

Your dog doesn’t have the moral ethics to see something he’d like to chase (a moving car, for example) and then reason it out (“but if I run in front of it, I’ll be seriously injured”) to avoid a bad outcome.

Your dog will never think: “Well……my owner was very clear about not wanting me to leave the yard, so I’d better not.”  Maybe (big emphasis on “maybe”) he wouldn’t leave if you were standing next to him while he was on leash, but, if you’re inside the house, or not home at all, your dog can – and probably will – leave the property.

Does that mean a fence is invincible? Not at all. Is it a safer option then nothing but wide open space and a prayer? You better believe it.

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Ramsey, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.